Doubling in size since last year’s event, the Paul Bradshaw-organised JEEcamp 2009 attracted around 70 attendees – descending on the Birmingham-based ‘unconference’ in a bid to unravel the future of journalism – including SoGlos.com’s founders Michelle Byrne and James Fryer.
Kyle Macrae’s keynote speech was a highlight of the day, with the seasoned entrepreneur giving a heartfelt and honest insight into his experience with Scoopt – a UGC-driven website offering members of the public the opportunity to upload and have their newsworthy pictures sold into the media.
While after years of hard graft the website was acquired by picture giant Getty – before sadly bring shut down earlier this year – Kyle’s insights on the issue of scalability, and realising the profit-generating potential of the model he founded, provided cautionary food for thought, in despite of what may have at first appeared a dream scenario for the budding entrepreneurs in attendance at JEEcamp.
Later in the day and it was James Hatts’ turn to reveal his insights 10 years into running the community-focused website SE1, which covers news in the eponymous postcode district of London. Although James cited plans to launch into neighbouring areas of the capital city – a development fuelled by reader demand to see the popular hyper-local model spread its wings – it was a surprise to hear that the family-run business had never been profit-driven or -motivated.
Deputy editor James Fryer was also fortunate enough to present during the unconference, giving a brief insight into some of the lessons learnt during SoGlos.com’s two-year history as an independent online arts and entertainment magazine for the county of Gloucestershire. It was great to see Martin Belam summarising some of the key points in his Guardian online article, which also provided a succinct round-up of the day as a whole.
While the enthusiasm and optimism for the future of journalism and the undeniable impact the Internet would continue to have on media was unsurprising – considering the crowd! – what was a little astonishing was the absence of more real life examples of independent publishers and professional journalists alike making a commercial impact regionally.
Kyle Macrae’s thoughts on SoGlos.com as a model which could be rolled out across the country – giving journalists the power to embrace a tried and test model – might not be too far from the mark. Watch this space…